The barn was a family affair today.
Initially it was just me and the girls, hubby was running an errand. But he surprised me by showing up at the barn when he was through, which was awesome!
Before he arrived, though, I figured my barn time today was going to be given up to managing the littles and doing potential damage control. Which is fine. They need to learn how to be around a barn and around horses- it’s so much more than grooming and riding skills.
So we kept things simple by learning how to approach a horse we don’t know.
Here’s what I explained to the girls, mostly to Big Girl since Babs isn’t talking yet (although I know she hears and processes what I say):
1. Body language. Look at the ears. Are the horse’s ears telling you she’s happy or pissed?
2. Let them know you’re there. Talk to them and touch them so they know where you are at all times.
3. Hold your hand out low, palm facing up and fingers downward. We don’t want a finger to be mistaken for a tasty treat! Babs had a tough time with this one 😉 her little fingers almost got nipped a couple of times, but I was right there on watch and I think she got the idea after a nippy horse got a little too close.
At all times I was in range to remove both girls if a horse showed signs of either horsey shenanigans or aggression. At all times there was a fence between us and the horses (and I maintained awareness that a horse can still do tremendous damage through a fence). A couple of times I explained to the girls that I needed them to move away because could they see the horse’s ears? Did the horse look happy? It’s my hope that just spending time in the environment will teach the girls so much about horses before they ever even get on one.
Babs loved the warm huffs of horse breath and held both her hands up to feel it from each nostril. I had a moment of Zen when I saw her, saw this, thinking of the sensation of warm air and a soft muzzle on such tiny new hands and such a fresh and attuned little spirit. (The gelding in the picture was not nippy so she was quite safe enough ❤️)
I was excited when my husband arrived because it meant I could actually go get Chroi and we could spend time with her (I didn’t dare leave the girls while I walked out to the paddock, nor was I about to have them both come with me). I bought Chroi out and I was excited to let Big Girl walk her for the first time, something I’ve planned on and thought about for a while now.
Chroi is true to the Gypsy Vanner reputation for good temperament. She readily accepted everyone doting on her and two little girls learning about brushing a horse.
(above: Big Girl had to try out every brush in the box; this one was her favorite because it “fit on her hand.”)
THIS is what I want for them, for us, and yes, for me. It was amazing to spend this time together as a family. It was beautiful to take a step back and let my children work their childhood magic, with the help of a special unicorn.